After five months and four days, Jeremy Jenkins has been found.
“I got the best Mother’s Day gift anybody could get,” Shelley Jenkins, Jeremy’s mother, said Sunday afternoon.
Jeremy had been missing since Dec. 4, 2010, following a boating accident. He died in the accident, along with his father Jason Jenkins and his uncle, Clint Yeager. Jason Jenkins and Yeager’s bodies were found shortly after the accident. They were duck hunting and their boat capsized that day.
A body was found Saturday around 4:05 p.m. at John Redmond Reservoir. The Coffey County Sheriff’s Office on Sunday said an autopsy was pending to determine if the remains are those of Jeremy. Shelley Jenkins said she received confirmation Sunday afternoon that it was her son found at the lake. He was identified by dental records.
“I guess the hard part was going through the steps of them telling you they have to identify your kid through dental records,” Jenkins said.
Individuals riding ATVs found the remains. Jenkins said the individuals who found the body of Jeremy knew Jeremy all his life.
“I’m sure it’s very hard for them, but I’m so thankful they were there and called it in and did what they had to do,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins thanked all those who helped with the search.
“I would like to thank everybody who took their own precious time, the volunteers who searched and was dedicated to make sure we brought him home,” she said. “It’s just amazing what the community has done to step up to make sure he was found.”
‘We never gave up hope’
Those are the words of Scott Thomas, who is a close friend of the Jenkins and Yeager families. Thomas went to John Redmond Reservoir nearly every day for more than five months to search for Jeremy.
Thomas said Jeremy was found close to the spot where his father’s and uncle’s bodies were found. It was five months and four days since Jeremy went missing, Thomas said. Thomas said he was out at John Redmond nearly every day for about four hours a day looking for Jeremy.
Thomas said Yeager was like a son to him.
“When Clint was very young, he lived next door to friends I know from scouting, Clint, just being the neighborhood kid, would just come around,” Thomas said. “As time went by we became very close. He just became the son I never had. Clint just became my kid, literally.”
While Thomas isn’t biological family, he said he is a part of the Jenkins and Yeager families and considers them family. He said he refused to give up the search.
“We just weren’t going to give up,” Thomas said. “Whatever it took. I really felt somebody had to keep looking for him.”
Thomas said he walked in the snow, rain and ice looking for Jeremy.
Thomas said he learned a lot in the past five months.
“In this the loss of two really great friends who to me are family, and the loss of the one I call my own son Clint, I have been amazed to find out who my real friends are,” he said. “As well as meeting new friends in this search effort of being at the lake almost every day for all this five months time.”
Thomas had many people to thank for searching for Jeremy. There were EMS from Coffey County, the Coffey County Sheriff’s Office and two out of state search teams.
“My heartfelt thanks to the people of Coffey County EMS in all its forms especially to a police officer in Burlington,” he said. “This guy and I met many times at the lake looking in the mornings in December and January mostly and some later. Your kindness and heartfelt sincere concern for me goes beyond what even many of my friends have extended to me and I thank you, sir, for that.
My utmost respect to Sheriff Randy Rogers and all of his staff and the Corps of Engineers rangers for all their kindness to me and keeping an eye out for me on all the days that I was totally alone over there walking in sometimes real adverse weather conditions when I really should have not been out there at all and for sure not alone, but some one had to keep looking everyday and I’m the Boy Scout in the crew.”
Roberts-Blue-Barnett Funeral Home has the arrangements. Jenkins said she’s not sure if there will be another service. Updates will be printed in The Emporia Gazette when they become available.
Debra Bess’ 2nd Annual Co-ed Softball Tournament honoring Clint Yeager, Jeremy Jenkins and Jason Jenkins will be held May 14 starting at 7 a.m. and continuing throughout the day at the ESU intramural softball fields. There will be raffles and food. All proceeds will go to benefit the families. Contact: (620) 794-4203.